Hey everyone, sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, things have been pretty hectic! I’m in my last semester of college and as such I’ve been working on my thesis, which has dominated a lot of my time. So since that’s been on my mind, I figured I’d let you know what’s going on with it.
In my thesis I’m exploring the potential for social media to be a new medium for literature. In doing so I’ve created a twitter account titled Social Literature with the handle @SocialLit and I tweet a poem that is exactly 140 characters (the limit for a tweet) every day. With these poems I’m interested in seeing how readers and other writers can directly interact with my work through the techniques and inventions of twitter such as retweets, hashtags and the like.
I’m making the argument that sites like Twitter not only function as new platforms for literature but that the rise of social media and the changes it has brought about in communication and langauge necessitates new forms of literature, such as a 140 character poem, in order to meet the demands of and accuratly respond to an increasingly digital and space conscious culture.
Social media has become a huge part of our everyday lives. You can find anything on it from daily activities to breaking news and in the midst of this information influx there is the potential to create art. There is evidence of this in the case of Instagram, a site that makes anyone with a camera phone able to create photography and has thus altered the dynamics of the profession. Theoretically the same type of phenomenon is capable through the use of text based social media such as blogs and what are known as “micro-blogs” like Twitter. Already accounts such as @veryshortstory, @InstantFiction and @arjunbasu have been using Twitter for short and flash Fiction, now I want to incorporate poetry. If a space exists for writing to be examined and read on a large public platform, then there exists the potential for literature.
Art is becoming democratized. It is more accessible to people than ever before. The idea of the ‘artist’ as a creative individual who solely pursues a passion is, for better or for worse, rapidly fading. It has become more about everyone possessing the potential to create, and also critique, art. Never before has there been an opportunity for a reader to instantaneously react publicly, especially on a global scale, to a piece of writing. Furthermore, since the internet is in many ways a creative commons, the most important questions will be about the role of authorship: What is contemporary authorship? Does Social Media create a new definition? Where does the role of the author lie in Social Media? In Social Literature? Which has led me down all sorts of Post-Modern and Deconstruction rabbit holes in search of answers.
In writing the Twitter poems, I’m placing them in a larger artistic and historic context of poetry that captures a specific moment or specific image such as the Japanese form of the Haiku and the modernist movement with specific attention devoted to Imagist poets such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, who based much of their work off the techniques of Haiku. Along with these Imagist authors I’ll be delving into E.E Cummings. With his work I’ll be paying close attention to the use of symbol, abbreviation and syntax comparing and contrasting it with Internet lingo and “Twitterspeak” to begin writing in this new language, using the work of Cummings as a structural and formulaic background.
In writing this series of Twitter poems and building Social Literature I hope discover where art, and poetry in particular, can be taken, and changed, through the medium of Social Media and in doing so enter into the conversation about the future of writing. So give me a follow, join in, and write a poem of your own!